THE Philippine National Police will send 150 troopers from the elite Special Action Force (SAF) to help enforce the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu City.
Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, Joint Task Force (JTF) Covid Shield commander and Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations, said on Thursday, June 25, 2020, that the SAF is necessary to compel residents to stay at home and follow quarantine protocols.
“During a visit in Cebu City, officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and National Task Force Against Covid-19 observed that local residents are not strictly following the quarantine rules as they saw people going out of their homes, not wearing face masks and not observing the physical distancing,” he said.
Eleazar also said he will be sending three senior officers from the PNP’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Visayas and PNP Directorate for Operations to Cebu City to facilitate the coordination among the police personnel on the ground, the JTF leadership and PNP national leadership.
Eleazar said they have coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the deployment of SAF personnel and their mobility assets such as armored vehicles to be used during their operations in the city.
He said AFP Central Command (CentCom) Chief Roberto Ancan has committed to deploy more personnel to assist the police.
“The CentCom is also using their air assets over Cebu City to check on observance of physical distancing,” he said.
Eleazar said the deployment of SAF has been proven effective in forcing residents of Metro Manila since the third week of April to stay home and obey quarantine protocols.
Earlier, he said the deployment of SAF and soldiers in several areas in Metro Manila resulted in a “steep” decrease in the number of ECQ violators.
“SAF commandos are known to be strict in enforcing the quarantine rules which subsequently compelled hardheaded residents to stay in their houses,” he said.
SAF Director Amando Clifton Empiso expressed confidence that his men would duplicate their success in ECQ implementation in Metro Manila in Cebu City.
He said the SAF deployment is necessary in order to help contain the spread of Sars-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“I have full trust and confidence in my men in accomplishing the tasks given to them. This is our way of helping the people of Cebu City and nearby areas in their fight against Covid-19. And this is a way of showing the people of Cebu that we are with them in winning this battle,” said Empiso.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier reverted Cebu City to ECQ because of the increasing number of coronavirus infections, the fast doubling time and high critical care utilization rate.
The JTF Covid Shield includes the AFP, Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine Coast Guard. It serves as the lead implementer of the quarantine protocols being imposed by the Inter Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease. (SunStar Philippines)